Firmino drought no sweat

Despite scoring 27 times last season, Roberto Firmino has yet to open his account in the new campaign but he set up the winner for Mohamed Salah against Brighton last week. The 1-0 win moved Liverpool to the top of the EPL table for the first time in
Despite scoring 27 times last season, Roberto Firmino has yet to open his account in the new campaign but he set up the winner for Mohamed Salah against Brighton last week. The 1-0 win moved Liverpool to the top of the EPL table for the first time in nearly two years.PHOTO: REUTERS

Brazilian has not scored in eight games for Reds but compensates with his mobility and creativity

LONDON • Roberto Firmino will seek to end a rare goal drought when Liverpool take on Leicester today at the King Power Stadium, although his manager Jurgen Klopp has no concerns about a drop-off in productivity.

The Brazil international has formed one of the most feared front lines in European football over the past 12 months with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

And the 26-year-old, signed for £29 million (S$51.6 million) from Hoffenheim three years ago, has continued his excellent form in Liverpool's 100 per cent start to the campaign - three victories and three clean sheets in as many games.

Yet, despite scoring 27 times last season, Firmino has yet to open his account in the new campaign.

The forward has not scored in eight games for Liverpool; he has only one goal in his past 10 appearances in a run that dates back to March.

But Firmino's selfless running has been singled out as one of the reasons Salah looks capable of continuing his prolific output of last season, when he scored 44 times for Klopp in all competitions.

Klopp, however, believes there is no sense of a World Cup hangover for Firmino, whose Brazil side exited the tournament at the quarter-final stage.

"He had two weeks of pre-season, which is quite short for a player who needs his physical fitness as much as Roberto does, but I'm completely happy," he said.

"After two weeks of preparation and a Brazilian holiday, he is much sharper and fitter than I would have expected. It is exactly how it should be in this moment and he can improve, like we all can improve."

Along with his mobility, Firmino's eye for a killer pass has not been dulled by his exertions in Russia.

His superbly timed pass against Brighton at home last week played in Salah, who scored the game's only goal as Liverpool moved to the top of the league table for the first time in nearly two years.

Klopp has to decide whether to name an unchanged starting line-up for the fourth straight game against the Foxes.

Mane is well aware that beating Leicester away to make it four wins in a row - which would be their best league start since the 1990-91 season - before the international break would send a "massive" statement to the chasing pack.

"It would be a massive win for us. To win before the international break, we know how important it is for us," he said.

"They will try to play for a win, that is a good sign for us because we love to play against these teams."

The Reds also have the added advantage of not having to face Jamie Vardy, who has scored in his last five meetings with Liverpool. The forward, recently retired from international duty with England is serving the last of a three-game ban after he was sent off in the Foxes' league opener against Wolves.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline 'Firmino drought no sweat'. Print Edition | Subscribe